CRC. It’s not one of those acronyms that rolls off your tongue. But the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – which, 20 years ago this month, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children – really did make a difference.

Looking back on this landmark action, we also see the value in small steps made by volunteer advocacy groups like The Junior League in advance of big steps made by international bodies like United Nations, with the CRC, or governmental organizations. Because, as we see it, passionate volunteer groups – wherever they are – can set the stage for policy solutions to tough issues.

Like the idea of free school lunches for needy kids? Thank the Junior League of Brooklyn, which successfully petitioned the New York City Board of Education to provide free lunches in schools in the early 20th Century, which became the model for the National School Lunch Program.

Want healthier kids? After a reemergence of preventable childhood diseases like measles during the 1980s, Leagues across the Association came together to create awareness of the importance of childhood immunization with the “Don’t Wait to Vaccinate” campaign. The result was a successful national campaign in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and other local health agencies

Worried about childhood obesity? The Junior League of Calgary’s Junior Chefs program teaches children about proper nutrition by empowering them to prepare their own healthy snacks and meals, which led directly to The Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen program, now sponsored by more than 200 Leagues.

Concerned about human trafficking? The Junior League of New Jersey State Public Affairs Committee has lobbied for increased support to victims of human trafficking and stiffer penalties for those responsible. In addition to lobbying state and federal legislators, SPAC has sponsored a human trafficking conference and set up a toll-free hotline to report suspected cases of human trafficking in New Jersey (877.986.7534).

Want to help kids learn? Innovative League programs like the Junior League of Saint Paul’s Saint Paul Plays! help parents and their children succeed at school. Saint Paul Plays! promotes the emotional and intellectual development of children by taking the power of play and creating a lasting, positive impact on family relationships, children’s success and the communities in which they live.